The Baltimore Ravens received gut-wrenching news this week: Linebacker Ray Lewis, the heart and soul of the team—especially its defense—is out for the season with a torn triceps.
In the same game, the team also lost one of its best cornerbacks for the season in Lardarius Webb to a torn ACL.
Already missing star pass-rusher Terrell Suggs, the Ravens have been getting taken to the woodshed on defense this season. The team is 5-1, but it’s been involved in high-scoring affairs that are not representative of the Baltimore defense that most fans remember.
Box scores are unforgiving, however, and if the Ravens’ replacements for their stars don’t prove to be capable ones in short order, then fantasy options facing Baltimore will be—unthinkably—must-starts for the foreseeable future.
Arian Foster and the Houston Texans will bring the first test to that theory in Week 7. Foster gained precious little yardage on Sunday night in Week 6, but a pair of touchdowns saved his fantasy day.
He may get both against the short-handed Ravens.
Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants has been, in a word, astonishing over the last two weeks. He’s a good running back. But the way he has handled the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers defenses since Week 5 is astounding.
Bradshaw has 57 carries for 316 yards and two touchdowns in those two games. And he’s caught five balls for 33 yards.
The Washington Redskins have been good against the run this season, but there’s almost no way you’re sitting Bradshaw on Sunday.
Matt Forte will have had 15 days off between his Week 5 date with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Chicago Bears’ next game against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football.
After taking 22 carries in Week 5, he already proved he can handle a legit workload. But getting more than two weeks to heal up from his early-season injury should make him a force to be reckoned with on Monday night.
Stevan Ridley clocked into my rankings as the second running back on his own team last week (behind Danny Woodhead) based on my expectations for the New England Patriots offensive philosophy heading into Seattle.
Ridley led the team in carries, but he got next to nothing with them. This week, Ridley jumps back to the top of the New England rusher rankings and back into my top 20 overall as he faces the New York Jets at home.
Find out where he checks in below.
1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans (vs. Baltimore Ravens)
2. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns (at Indianapolis Colts)
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (at Oakland Raiders)
4. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens (at Houston Texans)
5. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans (at Buffalo Bills)
6. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New Orleans Saints)
7. Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (vs. Washington Redskins)
8. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
9. Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys (at Carolina Panthers)
10. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (at Detroit Lions)
11. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Arizona Cardinals)
12. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at New York Giants)
13. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
14. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (vs. Tennessee Titans)
15. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots (vs. New York Jets)
16. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (at San Francisco 49ers)
17. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (vs. Seattle Seahawks)
18. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (vs. Tennessee Titans)
19. Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Cleveland Browns)
20. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
21. Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams (vs. Green Bay Packers)
22. Alex Green, Green Bay Packers (at St. Louis Rams)
23. Shonn Grenne, New York Jets (at New England Patriots)
24. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (vs. Green Bay Packers)
25. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions (at Chicago Bears)
26. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears (vs. Detroit Lions)
27. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (vs. Dallas Cowboys)
28. William Powell, Arizona Cardinals (at Minnesota Vikings)
29. LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New Orleans Saints)
30. Phillip Tanner, Dallas Cowboys (at Carolina Panthers)
31. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. Dallas Cowboys)
32. Mike Goodson, Oakland Raiders (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
33. Justin Forsett, Houston Texans (vs. Baltimore Ravens)
34. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (vs. New York Jets)
35. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
36. John Kuhn, Green Bay Packers (at St. Louis Rams)
37. David Wilson, New York Giants (vs. Washington Redskins)
38. Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots (vs. New York Jets)
39. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
40. LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals (at Minnesota Vikings)